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Old 02-09-2019, 07:03 PM
mixdenny mixdenny is offline
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Hypothetical Lake Erie Drain

I have pondered this a bit in the past. Unlike the "drain the ocean thread", this could actually be done. I would like to try it. Lake Erie is a good choice as it is fairly shallow and if drained would only have a fairly small pool in the center remaining. Think of the shipwrecks and bodies!

To do this I propose a channel be built along the south and north shores to contain the water flow from all the rivers. This can be pile driven interlocking steel plates like they build piers out of (Like they are using on Oak Island this season to drain the cove). The tops could be braced to the shores if needed. The channels would run from the Detroit river to the Niagara River along each coast. So by my reckoning the total width of the two channels would only need to be as wide as the Niagara, and only that wide on the eastern end as the flow increases along each path.

Looking at a profile you can see the lake slopes eastward and most of it should drain. At the eastern end of the channels we would need to tunnel to below the depth at Niagara Falls or built a coffer dam and pump the channels over the top into the existing Niagara River. If we are willing to give up about 1/3 of the depth of the eastern basin it is much easier!

http://geosurvey.ohiodnr.gov/portals...Big-144dpi.png


Any big problems?

Dennis
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Old 02-09-2019, 08:37 PM
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To start with, the Niagara River at Buffalo is 600 feet above sea level. The maximum depth of the river at that point is 41 feet. Ergo, you can only drain Lake Erie to 559' above sea level. Since the lake's mean elevation above sea level is 571' you'll only drain the top 12'. Lake Erie may be shallow, but it's a good deal deeper than 12'. You won't "drain " the lake, you'll just make the shoreline somewhat wider.
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Old 02-09-2019, 10:06 PM
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Don't forget...

Lake Huron rolls, superior sings
In the rooms of her ice-water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams
The islands and bays are for sportsmen
And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered
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Old 02-09-2019, 10:36 PM
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The Great Lakes are all interconnected. Their water levels are critical and affect vast numbers of cottagers and recreational and commercial boating, and docks often have to be adapted or rebuilt to respond to changing water levels, and cottagers and other property owners gain or lose huge amounts of beachfront property and suffer other damages with changes in water levels. For that reason and many others, water management in the Great Lakes is governed by bilateral US-Canada treaties. Moreover, all of the lakes including Erie cross the international boundary and belong to both countries (only Lake Michigan is technically entirely in the US, but hydrologically Michigan and Huron are really one lake whose water levels are equalized in either direction through the Straits of Mackinac).

So for very practical economic, environmental, hydrological, political, and legal reasons this is a non-starter.

Last edited by wolfpup; 02-09-2019 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 02-09-2019, 10:57 PM
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Moreover, all of the lakes including Erie cross the international boundary and belong to both countries (only Lake Michigan is technically entirely in the US, but hydrologically Michigan and Huron are really one lake whose water levels are equalized in either direction through the Straits of Mackinac).

So for very practical economic, environmental, hydrological, political, and legal reasons this is a non-starter.
Well, I guess the USA will need to invade Canada as step 1 of the plan to drain this lake.
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Old 02-09-2019, 11:03 PM
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To start with, the Niagara River at Buffalo is 600 feet above sea level. The maximum depth of the river at that point is 41 feet. Ergo, you can only drain Lake Erie to 559' above sea level. Since the lake's mean elevation above sea level is 571' you'll only drain the top 12'. Lake Erie may be shallow, but it's a good deal deeper than 12'. You won't "drain " the lake, you'll just make the shoreline somewhat wider.
Explain to me, please, how the Niagara River has a higher elevation at ANY point along the river than the mean elevation of Lake Erie?
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Old 02-09-2019, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
To start with, the Niagara River at Buffalo is 600 feet above sea level. The maximum depth of the river at that point is 41 feet. Ergo, you can only drain Lake Erie to 559' above sea level. Since the lake's mean elevation above sea level is 571' you'll only drain the top 12'. Lake Erie may be shallow, but it's a good deal deeper than 12'. You won't "drain " the lake, you'll just make the shoreline somewhat wider.
Did you look at the cross sectional chart I linked to? It's dead simple. Channel down far enough down (all the way to the falls) or pump it over the cofferdam.

And understand, this is only temporary. We solve all the shipwreck mysteries and remove all the bodies for analysis and fill her back up. People will love it!

Dennis
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Old 02-10-2019, 02:16 AM
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I used to have a map of Lake Erie shipwrecks I got at Put-In-Bay one summer. If I could go dig it out of my parents' attic, you can borrow it so you'll know where to look.

I've heard Lake Erie described as a very wide, slow river.
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Old 02-10-2019, 12:33 PM
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Explain to me, please, how the Niagara River has a higher elevation at ANY point along the river than the mean elevation of Lake Erie?
The bottom of the river is below the level of the lake. It doesn't really matter how high the banks of the river as long as they're above the surface of the lake.
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Old 02-10-2019, 12:49 PM
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I think a good way to start would be to blast the Niagara River to eventually connect the falls to the Lake directly. We already have the means to completely shut off the falls, and can do so while we are blasting.

Once we've rebased the falls at the the beginning rather than the middle of the Niagara River we should evacuate everyone downstream, release the dam, and see what happens. The cataclysm might carve out channels and undercut the falls even more for us without our intervention. Then we could proceed to blast away some more as needed.
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Old 02-10-2019, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by mixdenny View Post
Did you look at the cross sectional chart I linked to? It's dead simple. Channel down far enough down (all the way to the falls) or pump it over the cofferdam.

And understand, this is only temporary. We solve all the shipwreck mysteries and remove all the bodies for analysis and fill her back up. People will love it!

Dennis
So now I understand that what you're proposing has nothing to do with the Niagara River. You just want to build a ditch/tunnel that drops 325' feet in 35 miles, basically a giant water slide.

In that case, there's no need to mess around with channels along the shores, draining into the river etc. Just go out to the deepest point in the lake and start there. Bore a tunnel straight through to Lake Ontario. Pull the plug at either end and Erie will drain just like a big bathtub. It can't be any more difficult than what you're proposing.
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Old 02-10-2019, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
Just go out to the deepest point in the lake and start there. Bore a tunnel straight through to Lake Ontario. Pull the plug at either end and Erie will drain just like a big bathtub. It can't be any more difficult than what you're proposing.
This project needs a facade of "public service". You should contract with Musk's "Boring Company" to send the drain *west*, and link up to the Colorado River, thus "bringing water to the parched southwest".

Last edited by whitetho; 02-10-2019 at 02:11 PM. Reason: Don't forget to practice your "evil genius" laugh...
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Old 02-10-2019, 03:21 PM
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This project needs a facade of "public service". You should contract with Musk's "Boring Company" to send the drain *west*, and link up to the Colorado River, thus "bringing water to the parched southwest".
Under the Great Lakes Compact and the Great Lakes–Saint Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement, new or increased water diversion from the Great Lakes basin isn't generally allowed. Municipal water districts that straddle the watershed can apply for a waiver, but I guarantee no waiver will ever be granted to allow diversion to the Southwest.
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Old 02-10-2019, 04:00 PM
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That's okay, you could always do the same to Lake Tahoe, which has a decent amount of water as well: it should be enough that California won't worry about water for another ... year or two. Might need to pay off Nevada and get the Pyramid Lake Paiute on board but that's fewer people than the great lakes.

Plus the tunnel only has to be a few miles or so, and you'll also be able to take advantage of the thousands of feet of drop to generate hydro along the way.

Unfortunately, Tahoe isn't a renewable resource since the lake is almost in balance as it is and so would refill very slowly. But I'm up for it. No, I don't like skiing, why do you ask?
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Old 02-10-2019, 04:13 PM
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I think a good way to start would be to blast the Niagara River to eventually connect the falls to the Lake directly. We already have the means to completely shut off the falls, and can do so while we are blasting.
What, you can't wait a mere 50,000 years? Kids these days ...
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Old 02-10-2019, 04:36 PM
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Don't forget...

Lake Huron rolls, superior sings
In the rooms of her ice-water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams
The islands and bays are for sportsmen
And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered
Related to the discussions here on depths, it's also worth remembering that the Edmund Fitzgerald is 200 feet longer than the depth in Lake Superior where the ship sank.
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Old 02-10-2019, 05:51 PM
SamuelA SamuelA is offline
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Under the Great Lakes Compact and the Great Lakes–Saint Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement, new or increased water diversion from the Great Lakes basin isn't generally allowed. Municipal water districts that straddle the watershed can apply for a waiver, but I guarantee no waiver will ever be granted to allow diversion to the Southwest.
Federal authority supercedes this, right? Since when you talk about pumping water across the USA to water California, the Federal government could ram this through because it's interstate commerce, right?

Not that this is a good option - you would be pumping water over two mountains and you'd have immense friction losses over that many thousands of miles of canals and pipes. Probably cheaper and less energy costly to just make the water you need directly from seawater using reverse osmosis. And to stop subsidizing the farmers in California, have them move the farms to the midwest.
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Old 02-10-2019, 06:00 PM
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The Niagara would end up dry, right? Where would people go for their honeymoons?
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Old 02-10-2019, 06:06 PM
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Any big problems?
No.
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Old 02-10-2019, 06:37 PM
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So now I understand that what you're proposing has nothing to do with the Niagara River. You just want to build a ditch/tunnel that drops 325' feet in 35 miles, basically a giant water slide.

In that case, there's no need to mess around with channels along the shores, draining into the river etc. Just go out to the deepest point in the lake and start there. Bore a tunnel straight through to Lake Ontario. Pull the plug at either end and Erie will drain just like a big bathtub. It can't be any more difficult than what you're proposing.
Cool! Gigantic plug hole in the middle of the lake! Does the water spin clockwise or anti clockwise? Could Musk drop submarines down through the hole? A Musk transit tunnel?
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Old 02-10-2019, 09:26 PM
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The bottom of the river is below the level of the lake. It doesn't really matter how high the banks of the river as long as they're above the surface of the lake.
But the river BANKS aren't the elevation of the RIVER, right? I mean, is water now managing to somehow flow uphill? Or am I missing something with regard to how the lake is being "emptied"?
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Old 02-10-2019, 10:44 PM
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But the river BANKS aren't the elevation of the RIVER, right? I mean, is water now managing to somehow flow uphill? Or am I missing something with regard to how the lake is being "emptied"?
Nothing is flowing uphill. The channel of the Niagara river is 41' deep. The bottom of the channel is lower than the surface of Lake Erie. The water flowing into the river is being pushed by the water in the lake. Imagine a cup with a spout. The spout is lower than the rim of the cup. As long as you keep pouring water into the cup, water will keep flowing out of the spout. The Niagara River is the spout.

Now, if the OP were somehow able to block all the inputs to the lake, water would continue to be pushed into the river until the level of the lake eventually dropped below the level of the bottom of the river. That is, the water in the cup would be below the spout. The bottom of the river isn't nearly as deep as the bottom of the lake, so the lake will still have water in it.

To drain the rest of the water from the lake, the OP wants to either dredge the river all the way down to the level of Lake Ontario (making the spout lower,) or install giant pumps to lift the water up to the level of the river channel (siphoning the water out of the cup.)

Last edited by kunilou; 02-10-2019 at 10:47 PM.
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Old 02-10-2019, 11:44 PM
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Where would people go for their honeymoons?
Has that been a thing in the last 40 years?
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:53 AM
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I'm with Kunilou on this:

The Niagara river is only 17ft deep at the river's head (Buffalo end) versus a max Lake Erie depth of 210ft. If you stopped all in inflows to Lake Erie, all that would happen is the top 17 feet would flow out into the Niagara and then Lake Ontario. You'd still end up with 193ft of water in Lake Erie. This would simply give lake-front cottage owners a massive property windfall.

We need to figure out a way to not only stop all the inputs, but also drain all the water out of the deepest part.

As suggested: My money is on building some sort of diversion device around the perimeter of the lake, (a wall perhaps?) Wiki says only about 1200 km of shoreline, so it's feasible. Then bore a big tunnel at the deepest part directly to to Lake Ontario.

Still on the "to-do" list:
1) How big a tunnel would we need to drain it in any meaning full way? Back to you Mixdenny: how fast do you want to drain it? A couple days or a couple years?
2) Start counting all our money from all the shipwrecks we find!
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:02 AM
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Nothing is flowing uphill. The channel of the Niagara river is 41' deep. The bottom of the channel is lower than the surface of Lake Erie. The water flowing into the river is being pushed by the water in the lake. Imagine a cup with a spout. The spout is lower than the rim of the cup. As long as you keep pouring water into the cup, water will keep flowing out of the spout. The Niagara River is the spout.

Now, if the OP were somehow able to block all the inputs to the lake, water would continue to be pushed into the river until the level of the lake eventually dropped below the level of the bottom of the river. That is, the water in the cup would be below the spout. The bottom of the river isn't nearly as deep as the bottom of the lake, so the lake will still have water in it.

To drain the rest of the water from the lake, the OP wants to either dredge the river all the way down to the level of Lake Ontario (making the spout lower,) or install giant pumps to lift the water up to the level of the river channel (siphoning the water out of the cup.)
You're missing my point. Someone upthread pointed out that only the top 12' or so of Lake Erie would be drained by simply blocking input and letting the lake drain using available output. Someone else then made the assertion that, because the elevation of the Niagara River at Buffalo was 600', then much more of Lake Erie would drain. It was this assertion I was questioning.
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:14 AM
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Just keep trenching from the falls. The max depth of Erie is 63m and the height of the falls is 51m so there will still be a small lake left when you finish trenching, the part which is as low as Lake Ontario. As the lake drains, you will have to trench/dredge from Buffalo along the lake bed to the deepest part.

I guess the question will be who owns and gets to sell off the new real estate? States or Feds? Does the international border relocate to the middle of the drainage trench, or can the USA dig the trench on their side and end up owning both shorelines?
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:39 PM
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Still on the "to-do" list:
1) How big a tunnel would we need to drain it in any meaning full way? [B]Back to you Mixdenny: how fast do you want to drain it? A couple days or a couple years?
Hmm, good question. I figure people will not be in a real hurry, and a slow drain would allow us to explore the ever expanding dry (swampy?) shore for artifacts. Let's say 6 - 8 months. I would do some hydraulic calcs but my tables only go up to 2 foot diameter pipes.

Dennis
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:25 PM
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You see, here's the thing. People are fascinated about draining various lakes. Heck, there is an entire TV series called "Drain the Ocean" using CGI. I have seen a couple of large lakes drained in NE Ohio over the years and it is really cool. And Lake Erie is full of history. And shallow. And sloped. It can be done.

It isn't going to be easy. It certainly would be expensive. It may not even be feasible. But unlike draining an ocean - it is possible. We need to approach this with the same conviction my old boss, Wernher Von Braun, must have had back in the 1950s as he gazed at the Moon: "Vy, yes, of course ve can do it!"

Instead of thinking of this and asking, "Why", I ask, "Why not?"

* (I may have borrowed that last bit from somewhere)

Dennis
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:42 PM
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Wait, did you literally work for Von Braun? Cool!
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:52 PM
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You see, here's the thing. People are fascinated about draining various lakes. Heck, there is an entire TV series called "Drain the Ocean" using CGI. I have seen a couple of large lakes drained in NE Ohio over the years and it is really cool. And Lake Erie is full of history. And shallow. And sloped. It can be done.

It isn't going to be easy. It certainly would be expensive. It may not even be feasible. But unlike draining an ocean - it is possible. We need to approach this with the same conviction my old boss, Wernher Von Braun, must have had back in the 1950s as he gazed at the Moon: "Vy, yes, of course ve can do it!"

Instead of thinking of this and asking, "Why", I ask, "Why not?"

* (I may have borrowed that last bit from somewhere)

Dennis
Von Braun's autobiography was titled "I Aim For The Stars" and some joker suggested the subtitle should be "...But Sometimes I Hit London".
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:20 PM
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Hmm, good question. I figure people will not be in a real hurry, and a slow drain would allow us to explore the ever expanding dry (swampy?) shore for artifacts. Let's say 6 - 8 months. I would do some hydraulic calcs but my tables only go up to 2 foot diameter pipes.

Dennis
I did a quick back-of-the envelope calculation when I first read this post. Doubling average outflow of water from the lake would drain it in 2.5 years, which was faster than I'd expected. You're suggesting that we drain it about seven times faster than that. I don't know, but that much extra water might cause flooding along the St. Lawrence River.
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:28 PM
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You see, here's the thing. People are fascinated about draining various lakes. Heck, there is an entire TV series called "Drain the Ocean" using CGI. I have seen a couple of large lakes drained in NE Ohio over the years and it is really cool. And Lake Erie is full of history. And shallow. And sloped. It can be done.
I have to say, around here (vic.aus), you don't need to drain the shallow lakes: they dry out every now and then. (Or, in the case of the big one in the centre, they get wet every now and then.) And around here, most of us consider a dry lake rather more boring than a wet one.
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:31 PM
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Thus my suggestion to evacuate the downstream residents I perhaps neglected to mention that that meant all the downstream residents. Why, just a little bit of extra flow last year caused costly flooding on the shores of Lake Ontario. But I'd assume that if we had time to prepare we might open up the locks to their maximum possible and mitigate some of the near-catastrophic flooding surely to occur downstream.
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Old 02-12-2019, 01:21 PM
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Just keep trenching from the falls. The max depth of Erie is 63m and the height of the falls is 51m so there will still be a small lake left when you finish trenching, the part which is as low as Lake Ontario. As the lake drains, you will have to trench/dredge from Buffalo along the lake bed to the deepest part.
I think this is the answer. Easier and probably less expensive than tunneling (what is the geology under the lake - bedrock?). Essentially, doing what nature is currently doing, but doing it artificially and a lot faster.
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Old 02-12-2019, 01:50 PM
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I used to have a map of Lake Erie shipwrecks I got at Put-In-Bay one summer. If I could go dig it out of my parents' attic, you can borrow it so you'll know where to look....
Something like these?:

https://lakesuperiormagazine.com/wp-...PosterErie.jpg
http://www.shipwreckworld.com/media/...eckmapjpeg.jpg
https://i.pinimg.com/736x/df/ea/d0/d...-shipwreck.jpg

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Von Braun's autobiography was titled "I Aim For The Stars" and some joker suggested the subtitle should be "...But Sometimes I Hit London".
Obligatory Tom Lehrer link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjDEsGZLbio
  #36  
Old 02-13-2019, 03:28 AM
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This may actually solve our lake-effect snow problem.
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Old 02-13-2019, 05:37 AM
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Yes! A version of the first one is what I had.
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Old 02-13-2019, 09:50 AM
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Nothing is flowing uphill.
In post #2 you said the Niagara river is 29' higher in elevation than lake Erie. That's the question.
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Old 02-13-2019, 01:00 PM
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In post #2 you said the Niagara river is 29' higher in elevation than lake Erie. That's the question.
The elevation of Lake Erie I gave is an average (or mean, whichever Wikipedia chose to use.) As of this morning, the lake elevation at Port Clinton is 597', at Cleveland it's 572', and at Buffalo it's 575'.
The water flowing into the Niagara River is at 575'.

The elevation I gave was the elevation of the banks at the river's edge, which I consider to be flood stage. That's what I meant when I said the river is about 600' (in this map it shows the edge of the banks drops to about 580' in spots). That would be the height of the river at flood stage. But as I said back in post #2, the maximum depth of the Niagara River is 41'. If the OP builds his giant project to dam the inputs, the lake is only going to flow down to the bottom level of the Niagara River. That's the point I was making.

Now, in post #6 the OP made it clear to me his plan included either digging a deeper channel or pumping the water up to the level of the Niagara. Which made my objection moot, but not the actual numbers. The TOP of the river bank may be higher than the level of the water flowing into it, but as long as the BOTTOM of the channel is lower, nothing is flowing uphill.

Last edited by kunilou; 02-13-2019 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 03:47 PM
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I'm not claiming that anything is flowing uphill. I'm merely pointing out that you said the river is higher in elevation than the lake, which is why DSYoungEsq asked for clarification. You have since done so, but that doesn't make his confusion weird.
  #41  
Old 02-13-2019, 04:16 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bibliophage View Post
I did a quick back-of-the envelope calculation when I first read this post. Doubling average outflow of water from the lake would drain it in 2.5 years, which was faster than I'd expected. You're suggesting that we drain it about seven times faster than that. I don't know, but that much extra water might cause flooding along the St. Lawrence River.
The logical solution would be to build another trench in the St. Lawrence as far as the Quebec border, then let it find its own path.
  #42  
Old 02-14-2019, 01:13 AM
GMANCANADA GMANCANADA is offline
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@md2000 - I admire the balls you have to suggest that Canada might be able to wash everything East of the Quebec - Ontario border into the Atlantic. BTW - That is what you meant by
Quote:
as far as the Quebec border, then let it find its own path.
.

I'm not sure Pierre Jr. would agree, apparently he has no chance of winning the next election without appeasing Quebec, but never-the-less well played sir. You've added a whole new dimension to the solution.
  #43  
Old 02-14-2019, 10:31 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by GMANCANADA View Post
@md2000 - I admire the balls you have to suggest that Canada might be able to wash everything East of the Quebec - Ontario border into the Atlantic. BTW - That is what you meant by .

I'm not sure Pierre Jr. would agree, apparently he has no chance of winning the next election without appeasing Quebec, but never-the-less well played sir. You've added a whole new dimension to the solution.
More along the lines of Quebec seems to always want to do things their own way, so let them. (i.e. Canada pension Plan, Quebec Pension Plan...)

But of course, the logical way to completely drain Lake Erie would be to give Lake Ontario the same trench treatment until it is low enough to fully drain Erie. this would create significant new land on the Toronto waterfront which would be a windfall that Toronto and Ontario could argue over, until Doug Ford builds more subways into it.
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